This book is a sociological study of a societal grouping that has the popular title ’middle class’. It argues that it is more precise to describe the middle classes as dominant groupings, and the book draws upon a wide range of characters from such groupings. In a detailed analysis of cultural practices, those making an appearance include omnivores, carnivores, herbivores, the middle-brow, traditional culture vultures, middle class plunderers, the urban arts eclectic and the English gentleman. There is a particular focus on those expressing the ’silver disposition’; predominantly affluent, middle-aged and white, with a taste for conspicuous consumption and established cultural forms. The book brings together a range of disparate sources on the middle classes and offers a sustained engagement with the concept of ’culture’. It illustrates the extent to which social groups utilize the various assets at their disposal and seek to maintain the legitimacy of their cultural practices. The findings emphasise the continuing link between class and taste. Culture and the Middle Classes will be of interest to those working in the fields of class and culture across a range of disciplines, including sociology, cultural studies, social theory, media studies and cultural anthropology.
'Sociology at its best, looking behind the curtains. Stewart provides a theoretically subtle and empirically intriguing study of the meanings, practices, fears and foibles of the middle classes. But the book goes further. We all claim to be middle class nowadays, and so Culture and the Middle Classes is also a revealing report on the state of England.' Keith Tester, University of Hull, UK 'This is a key work for Class Studies. Following Raymond Williams, Stewart presents a coherent argument against any idea of a single "middle class", instead proposing that there are many types of defensive formations and dominant groups, including his newly identified "silver disposition". Stewart's book is a mature work in an immensely readable style, his comprehensive empirical studies are fascinating.' Sally R. Munt, University of Sussex, UK